LABOUR has launched a fresh attack on the Scottish Government over its management of the NHS, claiming hospitals that are failing to meet accident and emergency (A&E) waiting times and those where inspectors have raised concerns about cleanliness are symptoms of a “nationwide complex problem”.
Holyrood health spokeswoman Jenny Marra hit out at the SNP yesterday as hospital inspectors revealed they had raised concerns with the Scottish Government about cleanliness in the A&E unit at Kirkcaldy’s Victoria Hospital.
A Healthcare Environment Inspectorate team found dusty equipment as well as trolleys and chairs contaminated by blood and body fluids.
Concerns were also raised about dirty equipment in the intensive care unit, including intravenous pumps and syringe drivers that were “visibly contaminated” with blood, medication and dust.
On Tuesday, it was announced that the Scottish Government has sent in a specialist support team to help improve A&E waiting times at the Royal Alexandra Hospital (RAH) in Paisley.
Ms Marra said that while that was “welcome”, the problems at the hospital were not an “isolated incident”.
“The extra support heading towards the Royal Alexandra Hospital is welcome, but it is overdue,” she said. “We have been telling the health secretary [Shona Robison] and the First Minister for weeks that our A&Es are under extreme pressure, but it has taken them weeks to take action.”
And she claimed: “This isn’t an isolated incident, the SNP cannot simply try to solve problems in Paisley when Glasgow, Fife and departments up and down the country face similar pressures seeing patients and finding beds for them in our hospitals.”
Ms Marra also said the inspectors’ report on “dirty equipment in the Victoria Hospital’s A&E department is very alarming”.
“Last week the head of BMA Scotland warned that the NHS was operating on the goodwill of staff, and if the staffing crisis isn’t dealt with, the NHS could fall apart,” she said.
“This is not a problem in one hospital; this is a nationwide complex problem which the SNP have allowed to build up over years of simply managing the NHS on a day-to-day basis.”
Ms Marra continued: “The NHS is special to every man, woman and child in Scotland. It is there for us in times of need, of sorrow and of joy.
“Scottish Labour has pledged 1,000 extra nurses paid for by a UK-wide mansion tax to start to solve the staffing shortages in the health service.
“I hope the teams are able to ease pressure in Paisley’s A&E so patients can get the treatment they need as quickly as possible.”
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon conceded that it had been a “challenging winter” for A&E departments as she insisted sending in unscheduled care managers to work with staff at the RAH was a “responsible move”.
Ms Sturgeon said hospitals have had to cope with large numbers of elderly people turning up at A&E departments “perfectly legitimately” who need to be admitted for treatment, often for severe illnesses.
She told BBC Radio Scotland: “Why we’ve taken the action of sending a support team into the RAH is because we are concerned we’re not seeing the degree of recovery in that hospital we are seeing at other hospitals and that we would be expecting.
“It’s a responsible move, we will have unscheduled care managers … making sure patients get the quick access to treatment they deserve.’’